James Lanza

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James Lanza
Born October 25, 1902 (1902-10-25)
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Died February 14, 2006 (2006-02-15) (aged 103)
San Mateo, California, U.S.
Parents Francesco Lanza and Caterina Lanza

James "Jimmy the Hat" Lanza (October 25, 1902 - February 14, 2006) was an Italian-American mobster and boss of the San Francisco crime family. He was the son of the first known boss of the San Francisco crime family and took over in 1961,[1] which is now probably extinct. He was first noticed when Life magazine published his photo in the late 1960s, identifying him as boss of the San Francisco crime family.[2]

Early life[edit]

James J. Lanza was born in Palermo, Sicily, to Francesco "Frank" Lanza, an Italian immigrant who the first boss of the San Francisco crime family, and Caterina Lanza, an Italian-American. When he was a kid, his parents moved him to San Francisco from New York City.[2]

Criminal career[edit]


During the 1940s and 1950s, Lanza was underboss of the San Francisco crime family, working under Michael Abati.[3] He represented the San Francisco LCN family’s interest from the early 1940s to 1952 before being convicted of failing to report nearly $1 million in unpaid taxes.[4] In 1957, he attended the infamous Apalachin Meeting, representing San Francisco, when the raid happened he was never caught, possibly escaping through the woods with other mobsters.[5]


After Michael Abati was indicted and deported back to Italy, Lanza was named boss in 1961, making his underboss, Gaspare "Bill" Sciortino. Lanza soon became the most powerful and successful boss the family ever had, he started making gambling operations, contract hits, and more. Lanza became well connected throughout the country with other mob figures, as well in Las Vegas by his friend William "Bones" Remmer. Remmer was Lanza's link to Las Vegas and started their own casino skim. He came became close friends with Joseph Civello, the boss of the Dallas crime family and to Joe Cerrito, the boss of the San Jose crime family. His long time underboss, Gaspare "Bill" Sciortino was the cousin to the underboss of the Los Angeles crime family Samuel Sciortino, making their connections down south stronger. He had close ties with former mayor of San Francisco, Joseph Alioto. In 1973, Los Angeles crime family member, Jimmy Fratianno moved to the Bay Area, whom Lanza didn't like at all, put a contract on him because he was bringing too much attention about the SF family in 1977. They're friendship quickly ended. Lanza was believed to have given permission for the murder of former New England crime family associate, turned government witness Joseph Barboza in 1976. As the family grew older, Lanza would watch as his small crime family grow to include 15-20 made members.[2][4] Lanza had the misfortune of being one of the first mob bosses to garner media interest and was linked by Life to Mob boss Carlos Marcello[6] and to Mayor Joseph Alioto.[1] He was considered to be disiliked by Jimmy Fratiano.[7]


Lanza died peacefully of natural causes on February 14, 2006 in San Mateo, California. He was 103.[2]


  1. ^ a b Jerry Capeci (30 January 2005). The Complete Idiot's Guide To The Mafia. Penguin. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-59257-305-9. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d SFgate.com "James J. Lanza". February 22, 2006. [dead link]
  3. ^ none (30 October 2007). Mafia: The Government's Secret File on Organized Crime. HarperCollins. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-06-136385-6. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "San Francisco, CA.". AmericanMafia.com. 
  5. ^ "Mob Meeting at Apalachin: The Big Barbecue". GangsterInc. November 24, 2010. 
  6. ^ Time Inc (29 September 1967). LIFE. Time Inc. p. 35. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Carl Sifakis (1 January 2005). The Mafia Encyclopedia. Infobase Publishing. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-8160-6989-7. Retrieved 27 July 2012.